Am I required to have English Language competency certification?

23 September 2020

Required English Language Competency – GP Trainee Recruitment 2021

The ability to communicate clearly with patients and colleagues is a key requirement for all healthcare professionals. Proficiency in the English language is therefore a core competency for NCHDs working in the Irish public health service.

Under Section 6 'Standard duties and responsibilities' of NCHD Contract 2010, NCHDs are required to be able to communicate effectively with patients and clients; and comply with statutory and regulatory requirements, corporate policies and procedures and human resource policies and procedures.

Requirement for all NCHDs:

The English language requirements for NCHDs are universally applicable. There is no distinction between training, non-training, intern or any other category or grouping.

In this context, all NCHDs taking up employment with the HSE who were not registered with the Medical Council in any of the divisions of the Register of Medical Practitioners prior to 01 January 2015, or who did not complete the entirety of their under-graduate medical training in the Republic of Ireland, or who were previously but are not currently in HSE employment (break in service of more than 26 weeks) and their English language certification is not dated within 2 years from the date of application for GP Training are required to provide evidence of one of the following English Tests:

IELTS (International English Language Testing System) certificate with an overall band score of 7.0 and a minimum score of 6.5 in each of the four domains – reading, writing, listening and speaking - on the academic test. The test must be undertaken no more than two years prior to the date of it being submitted at application stage.


OET (Occupational English Test) certificate with an overall minimum grade of B and a minimum grade of B in Listening, Reading, Writing and speaking. The test must be undertaken no more than two years prior to the date of it being submitted at application stage.

While a doctor may sit the above tests as often as they wish, the above scores must have been achieved at only one sitting of the IELTS or OET test. Results from more than one test sitting cannot be amalgamated. Any cost incurred in relation to the IELTS or OET exam will be borne by the applicant. Information on IELTS & OET is available at or


Completion of their medical degree in English from any of the following countries – United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, or United States.


Applicants in continuous employment as a medical doctor with the HSE (>2 years), with no break in service, that submitted an acceptable English language competency certificate at the time of commencing HSE employment. This certificate does not have to be within 2 years from application date for gp training.

There are no exemptions to the above requirements

NCHDs communication skills must be independently assessed, by the employer or training body, as part of the application and interview process, before the NCHD recommended for appointment of contract of employment issued (excludes interns). 

Remedial Action:

Should the NCHD at any point not be able to demonstrate the required level of English language competency set out in Section 6 of the NCHD Contract 2010, the Employer may wish to consider remedial or other action under NCHD Contract 2010.


Applicants should address any queries that they may regarding these requirements to HSE National Doctors Training and Planning, Tel: 07669 59924. E-mail: